Where has the week gone?!
19.08.2011 32 °C
A couple of exciting things happened today.
First, I made a new friend!
Second, I got the keys to my apartment!!
This morning we had to go into school so Caroline could finish the list of her shipping & all the other (what turned out to be) long & tedious paperwork so (hopefully) she can collect her box at some point in the near future. It ended up taking a lot longer than the 30 ish minutes we first thought (almost 3 hours in the end!) so I went for a wander. I walked down to the nearby canal, which is very pretty, then thought I'd have a look in a shop we passed earlier named 'Cake. Drink. Coffee' & see what kind of bread & cake products they had. The owner, Ingrid (no, not Scandinavian, she's Chinese!) spoke very good English & we started chatting. It turned out she lived in England for two years; one year studying & the other working, exploring the country & visiting relatives. While she was there, she lived in Luton & went shopping in Milton Keynes! She even went clubbing in MK a couple of times (she went to Revs!) & told me MK is famous around here, mostly because a lot of Hong Kong Chinese go there & open Chinese takeaways!!! In all the countries I've visited, no one I've met there has ever heard of Milton Keynes - until now, & I think this was the place I least expected people to have heard of MK! I ended up staying there chatting to her for the rest of the morning. She also told me that quite a few members of staff at the school get their breakfast in her shop, so I promised her I would come back next week to see her & get breakfast.
I walked back to school about 1pm, by which time Caroline & Jessica had just about sorted out all the necessary paperwork, so we all (& Mandy) went for lunch. It is customary in China to leave a small amount of food in your bowl/on your plate to show that you have had sufficient. Otherwise you could be insulting your host by inadvertently saying they have not given you enough food to satisfy your appetite. I had a bowl of noodles in a kind of broth with lettuce and pork & shrimp dumplings. Jessica asked us both how long we'd been using chopsticks (Caroline only since the beginning of this week, me for years, usually whenever I have Chinese food at home), & she & Mandy said I used them very well, like a natural, & seemed to be quite impressed that I used them at home! I was very pleased with them saying that!
This afternoon (& early evening) was taken up with sorting out the contracts, keys & various other stuff to do with my new apartment. Did I mention I have a balcony & there's a swimming pool in the apartment complex??
I also have a new air con unit & fridge freezer being delivered tomorrow - hopefully in the afternoon, after I've moved all my stuff in. It was a long & arduous process, which involved going to the tax office, filling in lots of forms, going through the inventory with the landlady (who had her very cute four year old daughter with her), getting someone to change the locks, getting the maintenance manager to fix the drawer & door stop, & getting another man to remove the old fridge freezer (which was quite a palaver as it wouldn't fit through the kitchen door, so the door had to be removed from the hinges!). All of which Mandy (who is amazing) had to sort out for me as I can't read, write or speak Chinese!
Anyway, the end result was that I have the keys to my apartment & I'm moving in tomorrow. Very exciting! Tomorrow evening will be strange, because I've got used to being in the hotel & the area around here, & it's kind of felt like a holiday so far. I think tomorrow it might begin to seem a bit more real that I'm here for 2 years. Although I've been telling myself that every now & then, I've been so busy getting everything done I still don't think it's quite sunk in yet.
It will take about a week or so until I will have the internet at home, as I have to wait until I have my bank card (which I can collect on Thursday) before I can apply for it. The same thing goes for getting tv set up, so I think I'll be buying a DVD player tomorrow! Apparently Starbucks (which is just down the road from my new place) has wi-fi, so hopefully I'll still be able to email & update my blog, but if you don't hear anything from me for a while, you know why!